July 11, 2019
National Shooting Sports Month Heats Up in Houston
HW Range and Training Center
They say things are bigger in Texas and this year that includes National Shooting Sports Month® as ranges in the Houston area partner with NSSF® to make it the biggest ongoing shooting event in the area.
Tammy Hunter of HW Range and Training Center says that last year the range used #LetsGoShootingTM to discount range fees in an effort to get new shooters to come out. “We offered a discount to anyone who heard about National Shooting Sports Month through the NSSF or online social media and said, ‘I’m here because you’re offering a National Shooting Sports Month discount tonight and I want to shoot,’” she says of how HW Range tracked response to last year’s campaign.
In addition to the discount, shooters who mentioned National Shooting Sports Month also received free hats or T-shirts and were encouraged to take photos and post them on social media. Local businesses who helped sponsor the event also provided free items to randomly selected shooters.
To come up with the initial ideas of what to do for National Shooting Sports Month, Hunter turned to NSSF’s ShootingSportsMonth.org and then customized what she found to fit her customers and hours of operation. One customization she did was to schedule new shooter activities for the range’s off-hours, reasoning those times would be easier for families and that having fewer people would be a little less intimidating to new shooters.
This year, Hunter coordinated her August plans with her NSSF regional representative. “Paul Irwin, our Regional Member Services Manager, came in and he really broadened what I knew as far as what we could do this year to support the effort,” says Hunter who added that the coordination resulted in “a really full schedule” including a “Pigeon Palooza” as the range’s +ONESM Movement effort.
“We host the Pigeon Palooza every year, and this year we are encouraging our regular shooters who come out for the event to bring someone who’s never been before,” says Hunter. To encourage those shooters, she’s speaking directly with skeet team members and including information in weekly emails. Hunter says she’s also listing “everything from our ladies’ events to our First Shots® classes” on NSSF’s ShootingSportsMonth.org national events calendar and says it’s “super easy” to list those events.
“What I ended up doing is using the spreadsheet,” says Hunter. “NSSF has it where you can actually create the event and enter all the data one event at a time if you want to do it that way as well, so they let you kind of do it in the way that works best for you, which is really helpful for our range.”
According to Hunter, the NSSF-provided +ONE Movement challenge coins and online promotional toolkits were also very helpful. “We try to keep those ready so whenever the time comes to share them, we have all the National Shooting Sports Month graphics and all the right wording, things like that, because August is going to be a very busy month.”
Saddle River Range
At the Saddle River Range, owner Thom Bolsch hosted First Shots classes last year for National Shooting Sports Month and even had local politicians attend the events. “This year we’re going further with it and we really want to emphasize the First Shots,” says Bolsch, who explained that customer demand and the amount of support he gets from NSSF justified him adding new First Shots programs as early as June as a lead-up to National Shooting Sports Month.
To his way of thinking, First Shots is a great thing to do for August’s shooting sports celebration. “What we try to do is, we promote it further,” says Bolsch. “So, they took the first steps we advertised and participated in First Shots, and then while they’re here, we show them other classes we offer, see what their interest is and maybe sign them up for another one, giving them discounts to do so. It’s about enticing them to take the next step.”
Promoting his events on the NSSF ShootingSportsMonth.org calendar was a “piece of cake,” according to Bolsch, and “instrumental” to the range’s success. He noted that its promotional toolkit was especially helpful, saying “The National Shooting Sports Month webpage is really designed for ease of use for the range and retailer owners to pick and choose how they want to promote it. NSSF has really gone above and beyond this year to really help us market our events.”
Another thing Bolsch found helpful was the various toolkits NSSF provides. “They have so much material that we can pick and choose what would look better on our digital billboard we have outside our shop or in our print ads or any of our social media,” he says.
Though First Shots will be a significant part of National Shooting Sports Month for Saddle River, Bolsch calls the +ONE Movement “an incredible idea,” one that he and his staff agree is a great way to promote the shooting sports. “I think the ‘bring a friend’ concept is really going to be instrumental for going outside of just yourself or your family,” says Bolsch. “We’re moving forward with it right now. We will be using the #PlusOneMovementTM hashtag in our social media as well as any advertisements that we do. That’s not necessarily enough to get people to remember what the promotion is, though, and so sending it out via our newsletter and our social media and our blast emails we do quite often keep it on the front burner, keeps it in their face.”
Texas Gun Club
At the Texas Gun Club, President and CEO Jason Short says National Shooting Sports Month last year coincided with the club’s opening.
“We ran a few programs, primarily marketing through social media on ‘bring a friend to the range,’ and we ran some membership specials,” he explains. “NSSF provided T-shirts and, we hosted a special range day.”
Short says that opening a new range is a lot like “drinking from a firehose,” so he maintains liaisons with NSSF specifically to make things easier. “It sends information to us that says, ‘Hey, do this, here are some ideas.’ One of those ideas was to bring a friend to the range during August, and one of our missions is to grow the shooting sports, so that is what we worked toward,” he says of last year’s National Shooting Sports Month efforts.
This year, Short is working with his NSSF’s Paul Irwin to coordinate its August events. “Again, we’ll be having a special range day,” says Short, “and we’ll also be hosting an NSSF First Shots program so we’re coordinating more closely with our NSSF rep.”
Part of that coordination includes using toolkit materials NSSF provides. Short specifically uses NSSF’s logos on the event-specific pages of his range’s website and has flyers about those events in the store. “We certainly will use whatever tools they give us,” he says.
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